Social Work in Action: August / September 2023

What Are the Implications of Affirmative Action Ruling?

group of raised hands

The U.S. Supreme Court in June issued a ruling on affirmative action that will have profound and long-term implications for the country, says Mel Wilson, LCSW, who posted a statement on NASW Social Work Blog, NASW Member Voices: Supreme Courts Ends Affirmative Action. What are the Implications?

With a 6-3 majority decision, SCOTUS declared in the case Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, that race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina violate the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. More directly, the ruling forbids all colleges and universities in the United States from taking race into consideration when admitting students, Wilson said.

Though the plaintiff in this case raised concerns about purported discrimination against Asian Americans, it would be a mistake to focus solely on the ethnicity of the litigant, he said. This case is about aggressive, fully formed, anti-affirmative action groups—mostly white conservatives—that have been active in opposing this policy since President Lyndon Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 in 1965, Wilson writes.

“We must be reminded that affirmative action policies do not exclusively target Black and Hispanic people. In addition to these groups, women are included as beneficiaries of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs,” said Wilson, a former senior policy adviser for NASW who continues to be active on a range of social policy areas, including youth justice, immigration, criminal justice, and drug policy.

On a related note, NASW issued a statement that says it is deeply disappointed in the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in June that continue to systematically dismantle the rights, opportunities and protections afforded to Americans across the country—including women; members of the LGBTQIA2S+ communities; racial, religious, and ethnic minority communities; and economically disadvantaged populations.

In the statement, the association said it is committed to supporting social justice initiatives and public policy priorities that advance equity, equality and inclusion for all Americans and urges social workers to join with NASW as “we actively and vigorously oppose all efforts to restrict access to these fundamental human rights.”

Learn more about NASW’s social justice priorities, including the Blueprint for Federal Social Policy.

Federal Bill Would Increase Number of MSWs in Library Settings

Social workers have long served their clients in a wide variety of settings. One setting where social work services could be expanded is in public libraries. Libraries benefit communities in a variety of ways and often serve as community hubs.

To further this effort, NASW urged members to contact their U.S. representatives in Congress to support the More Social Workers (MSWs) in Libraries Act (H.R. 3006). The proposal provides a key step in increasing the availability of social work services in communities through libraries.

Community Mental Wellness and Resilience Act Needs Support to Advance

NASW urged members to contact their congressional representatives to support the bipartisan Community Mental Wellness and Resilience Act (S. 1452/H.R. 3073). It was introduced in Congress to address the mental health effects of the climate crisis. 

The bill aims to fund and provide technical assistance to support the formation and operation of broad and diverse coalitions across the nation that build mental wellness and resilience for adversities and implement local climate solutions.

cover of August / September 2023 issue

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